This article was originally published in the September/October 1997 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.
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Home Energy Magazine Online September/October 1997
Moisture vs. House Wrap: The Final Conflict. For now, it looks like house wrap, one of the best-selling building materials, is losing the war on water. When water penetrates exterior siding, house wrap is supposed to keep the sheathing dry. But recent research by University of Massachusetts' Paul Fisette and Building Science Corporation's Joe Lstiburek show that house wrap breaks down when exposed to surfactants and extractives commonly found in other building materials--surfactants are widely used in soaps, and extractives are naturally released from cedar and redwood. Degraded house wrap is less effective than asphalt-impregnated building felt. Fisette is unwilling to draw specific conclusions based on these early results. Lstiburek, however, says that the house wrap failures are yet another reason to construct exterior walls with vented rain screens in wet climates (see Paul Fisette's article Roofing and Siding Rehabs Get an Energy Fix, HE Nov/Dec '96, p. 25). Journal of Light Construction, June 1997. RR2, Box 146, Richmond, VT 05477. Tel:(800) 644-4596; Fax:(802)824-4597; E-mail: JLC@bginet.com.
Passing on Demand-Side Management. The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has long been a leader in demand-side management (DSM). To encourage conservation, the BPA has funded extensive experiments on manufactured homes, duct tightness, and other house-as-a-system approaches. It has also turned its research into such effective programs as Super Good Cents, Weatherwise, and Energy Smart Design. However, with industrywide restructuring just around the 90° duct elbow, the BPA is cutting funds from DSM. As of 1999, it will stop funding its construction programs. It expects the 120 utilities that use BPA power to pick up the slack. BPA hopes that utilities will start chipping in even earlier, voluntarily providing 3% of their revenues for public purposes such as research and development, conservation, and low-income programs. Energy Design Update, May 1997. Don Best, 65 Hallwood Dr., Surry, NH 03431. Tel/Fax:(603)357-5689; E-mail: email@example.com.
Joint Meter Reading? Today, most residences have separate meter-readers for water, electricity, and gas. In the future, all three meters might be read by one person, on one trip. The American Water Works Association has entered discussions with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and other utility groups, with the goal of consolidating meter reading. According to EPRI, this approach would at least reduce costs. If automated, it would also speed billing operations and enhance utilities' ability to share data for planning purposes. EPRI also expects that customers would receive only one utility bill, rather than three, and that customers could start and stop utility services with one phone call. End Use News, Spring 1997. EPRI, P.O. Box 10412, Palo Alto, CA 94303. Tel:(650)855-2661.
At Last, New Fridge Standards. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has finalized long-awaited refrigerator standards. The standards require new refrigerators to increase energy efficiency by 30% by July 1, 2001. The approval process put the standards through political hoops--a 1994 consensus became a 1995 argument at the same time that Congress imposed a yearlong moratorium on new DOE standards. For awhile, all major manufacturers except Whirlpool were in favor of pushing the implementation date back to 2003. Recently, all refrigerator manufacturers agreed that they can have the more efficient units on the market in time for the 2001 deadline. Update, Spring 1997. Alliance to Save Energy, 1200 18th St., NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20036. Phone:(202)857-0666; Fax:(202)331-9588; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARI Cool on Climate Change. The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) has adopted a new climate change policy, stating that no treaty should be effective before 2010. The institute requests that no targets be adjusted for at least five years. ARI's position is almost identical to the Clinton administration's position on current negotiations about binding targets for greenhouse gases. The position is contrary to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which the United States signed at the 1992 Earth Summit. The Framework Convention committed the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2000. Since 1992, carbon emissions have risen every year, so an actual decline is unlikely unless nations take drastic action. The new negotiations are on binding targets for reduced use of greenhouse gases including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). ARI members are vulnerable in these negotiations, as many of their members use HFCs as refrigerants. ARI points out that their industry is important to the U.S. economy, employing 136,000 people and selling $17 billion worth of products every year. They don't want to be forced to reduce their use of HFCs before 2010. Koldfax, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, 4301 N Fairfax Dr., Suite 425, Arlington, VA 22203. Tel:(703)524-8800; Fax:(703)528-3816.
Bad Simulations, Good Savings? Energy Rated Homes of Arkansas (ERHA) recently completed a study to determine what investments homeowners were making with Energy Improvement Mortgages (EIMs) and Energy Efficient Mortgages. They found that of 69 EIMs, borrowers typically financed $3,600 and spent an additional $790 out of pocket. According to ERHA's analysis, the investments saved an average of $580 per year, resulting in a 23.8% return on investment. The most cost-effective measure was duct sealing, which cost an average of $440 and saving $170 per year; airsealing cost $390 and saved $130 per year. RESNET Notes, May 30, 1997. 12350 Old Seward Highway, Suite 208, Anchorage, AK 99515. Tel:(907)345-1930; Fax:(907)345-0540; E-mail: email@example.com.
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